Some of the best roads are the ones less travelled. Such is the case with Route 205 in southern Oregon, USA. It’s only 73.35 miles long, running between Oregon Highway 78 near Burns on the north end and Roaring Springs Ranch on the south, never leaving Harney County. For those who choose this picturesque ‘High Desert Scenic Byway’, over the ‘zoomier’ highway 95, there’s a treasure along the way … Fields Station.
It started with a fellow named Charles Fields who homestead here and built a stagecoach roadhouse to serve folks and drivers making the trip between Burns, Oregon and Winnemucca, Nevada. It’s still doing the same thing today except drivers now go a might faster with a whole lot more in horsepower than back in 1881.
The, store, gas station, bar, lodgings and café are all found with one stop at Fields Station. If you need to use the outhouse, you will find blue plastic ones out front and close by is a hand powered water pump to use for washing up.
Below the sign, on the other side of the screen door, you can pay for gas and ice, pickup bottles of booze or order a drink from the barkeep plus do a bit of shopping: everything from suntan lotion to antacids, pepperoni sticks to hunting maps, chips to chap-stick. Overtop of an open doorway is a sign, ‘Café’; watch your step.
There’s enough room to sit twenty if everybody’s friendly. The place was pretty much packed when we arrived and a fellow changed seats so we could have the only two vacant stools left at the bar. Before long we were on a first name basis with others perched along the L-shaped bar and were laughing along with six friendlies occupying the corner booth across the room.
The menu is simple but we took the advice of a fellow we had bumped into at a gas station in Burns; he told us we had to try the hamburgers and milkshakes, “best shake you’ll ever have,” he said sincerely. Between flipping slabs of hamburger on the flat grill and serving chicken strips with mounds of fries to waiting customers, the pleasant cook managed to take our order. There is a plastic covered sheet of paper with all the milkshake flavors on it, but we didn’t know about it until after we had received suggestions from fellow diners and ordered accordingly. The milkshake is served with a spoon rather than a straw; way too thick for a straw. The hamburger, made with beef not fillers, was huge and topped with onions, pickles, tomato, lettuce and sauce, making the bun look small. One could cause injury to their jaw trying to bite the distance from top to bottom in one go.
This rare find may be on a road less travelled but numbers would suggest a great many of those who travel Route 205 stop to fill themselves (if not their car). In the past ten months Fields Station has served 4,396 hamburgers and 5,683 milkshakes.
Fields Station also offers accommodation in their two motel rooms. In the fall these are booked up with hunters; fishermen too are eager to occupy these rooms while catching their limit of rainbow trout from nearby streams. If it’s an overnight stop you want to make, you should probably book early.
For any traveler who’s prepared to give up Highway 95 ‘zoom’ and make room in their travel schedule for food, a fun experience at Fields and camera clicking scenery along the way, Route 205 is sure to please.